The Independent Police Review Authority (IPRA) in Chicago, which is supposed to investigate complaints of brutality and misconduct against police , fired one of its investigators after he refused to change findings that suggested multiple police shootings were “unjustified.”
WBEZ reported, “Scott M. Ando, chief administrator of the city’s Independent Police Review Authority, informed its staff in a July 9 email that the agency no longer employed supervising investigator Lorenzo Davis, 65, a former Chicago police commander.”
“Davis’s termination came less than two weeks after top IPRA officials, evaluating Davis’s job performance, accused him of ‘a clear bias against the police,'” WBEZ additionally reported. The top IPRA officials “called him ‘the only supervisor at IPRA who resists making requested changes as directed by management in order to reflect the correct finding with respect to OIS,’ as officer-involved shootings are known in the agency.”
Over 19 months, Davis’ “performance evaluation” reportedly concluded that he displayed a “complete lack of objectivity combined with a clear bias against the police in spite of his own lengthy police career.” (During Davis’ career, he served as the head of multiple detective units, a district police station, and the public housing unit.)
Davis told WBEZ, “I did not like the direction the police department had taken. It appeared that officers were doing whatever they wanted to do. The discipline was no longer there.”
Several of his performance evaluations since being hired in 2008 show he was seen as an “effective team player.” If his team exonerated officers, top officials would be pleased. It was when he challenged shootings as being unjustified in six particular cases that he experienced pushback.
“They have shot people dead when they did not have to shoot. They were not in reasonable fear for their lives. The evidence shows that the officer knew, or should have known, that the person who they shot was not armed or did not pose a threat to them or could have been apprehended by means short of deadly force,” Davis stated.
Sarah Macaraeg, a journalist based in Chicago, has spent the past months investigating and exposing the IPRA’s role in protecting police officers from prosecution and punishment for violence and other crimes committed.
Since 2010, the IPRA has “conducted 272 investigations of officer-involved shootings over the last five years.” One case has been deemed unjustified.
Macaraeg’s investigation found, “At least 21 Chicago police officers are currently serving on the force, some with honors, after shooting citizens under highly questionable circumstances, resulting in at least $30.2 million in taxpayer-funded City of Chicago settlements thus far.”
There are six Chicago police officers who killed people and also have a “large volume of unpenalized complaints of misconduct.”
More than 500 Chicago police officers deployed have over 10 misconduct complaints from 2001 to 2006, and still serve in the police department. This number includes “four lieutenants, the director and an organizer of the Chicago Alternative Policing Strategy (CAPS), 55 detectives, a field training officer and 69 sergeants.”
“From 2002 to 2008, out of 90 excessive force complaints, specifically denoting improper “weapon, use/display of,” all but eight were dismissed, with only five noting the violation,” according to Macaraeg’s investigation.
Despite all of the above, the public is apparently supposed to believe that it is Davis, who is not the “effective leader” or “team player.”
“This is a personnel matter that would be inappropriate to address through the media, though the allegations are baseless and without merit,” an IPRA spokesperson told WBEZ. “IPRA is committed to conducting fair, unbiased, objective, thorough and timely investigations of allegations of police misconduct and officer-involved shootings.”
However, according to a “shadow report” by the activist organization We Charge Genocide, which presented its findings on Chicago police violence to the United Nations Committee Against Torture (UNCAT) last year, “A brutality complaint is 94% less likely to be sustained in Chicago than in the nation as a whole: Only 0.48% of brutality complaints against the CPD are sustained (as opposed to 8% nationally).”
The IPRA’s own data shows, between 2009 and 2013, “75% of police shooting victims were Black.” The police review agency apparently sees this as being trivial and not a component of the rampant corruption among police.
The one case that was deemed unjustified is the case of Officer Dante Servin, who shot and killed 22-year-old Rekia Boyd. He was the first Chicago police officer in the past 15 years to be put on trial for crimes related to a shooting. But, in Servin’s case, he escaped being found guilty because prosecutors refused to charge him with murder. A judge ultimately issued a verdict concluding he could not be guilty of “involuntary manslaughter” because he quite clearly meant to fire his weapon at Boyd (and others she was with before she died).
Public information requests have confirmed that the city “does not track shootings, perform pattern analyses of shootings, or examine officers and units with high numbers of misconduct complaints in a short period of time.”
The city must figure if it is not going to investigate police corruption it is much easier to not keep proper track of criminal misconduct in the first place.
Chicago, which is experiencing a major budget crisis, has had to pay over a half billion dollars in the last ten years to settle lawsuits alleging police brutality.
Somehow, the public is expected to accept that taxpayers shoulder the burden of police brutality while officers, who commit brutal acts, roam free and continue to work on the force.
The IPRA was once the Office of Professional Standards. It was a part of the Chicago Police Department until Mayor Richard M. Daley responded to police scandals and moved it to his control.
The move may have assuaged concerns, but it clearly did not change the culture of the police review agency. Chicago police enjoy a great level of impunity, a luxury bolstered by a political class in the city that does little to hold officers accountable and an “oversight” agency that looks over cases but refuses to see prosecutable crimes.